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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Last Stop by Jessica Cage

The book is paranormal and 18+

The conductor yells as we approach the end of the line. “Last stop!” He is an older man with a voice that has long since dropped to the lowest level of baritone. The loose flesh of his neck jiggles above his collar as he calls it out. This is my stop. Usually as I approach my home, the last stop on the last train, I am the only one left on board. Only once a week there is also a young boy, a track star. Most people know him because his face is often plastered all over the local sports section. He is tagged as a future Olympic star. Each time his is there, his Father is waiting for him by the doors as he exits.
Each time I witness his welcoming I wonder what it would feel like to have someone waiting for me on the platform, but there never is. Just the warm night’s breeze and a flickering light that always seems to be moments from going out, yet it continues to hold on. Sometimes I compare that light to the idea of life in general. We are all just flickering lights, waiting for that final surge of electrical impulses before we fade to black. My more morbid side often rears its ugly head. There is no one there to welcome me, to walk me to my car and ride the ten blocks to my apartment, no one who feels pleasure because of my safe arrival.
“Last stop!” The conductor yells it again, as if the added octave is necessary. It’s just me and he knows it, but he calls it out all the same. In a way, I appreciate it. It makes me feel less pathetic, like perhaps there’s someone else on board who has drifted off to sleep while riding along. On a bad day, when the world has decided to shit on my existence, it has just the opposite effect; like being at a restaurant full of couples and the Maitre d’ yells out ‘Party of one!’ You sulk over to your table and pray that no one is watching, but you can feel their eyes on you.
I step off the train and onto the waiting platform, he nods, and I nod, it’s something like our ritual. I turn away as the doors slide shut and the train pulls out of the terminal. Last stop.
The platform is old, as in barely holding together. Apparently, they feel that there is no need to do any repairs or maintenance, hardly any upkeep is ever done, and if it has been done that says something sad about whoever is responsible for it. Why let this place wither away? I guess it’s mostly because there aren't many riders left that come out this far. Most people either drive, or remain local for work. That’s most likely why the schedule has become so limited. You can only catch the train from this platform a few times a day. It’s also probably the reason that the train only waits about ten seconds before shooting off in the opposite direction. No one is going to come running for it. Last train, last stop, either you are there when it arrives or you find another way.
I hear the train’s whistle fade off in the distance behind me. The old wood creaks beneath my feet as I walk towards the exit to my car, which waits for me alone in the parking lot. This better not be the day the damned thing decides to give out on me. It’s in desperate need of a long list of repairs that I have been most effectively ignoring. The check engine light has been on for nearly two months, and no, I am not proud of that fact. I keep saying I will take it to the shop. I will have to soon. I rationalize this major act of neglect with the idea that I don’t drive it that much. Just to and from my apartment, to and from the last stop on the train.
I am just nearing the bench that sits next to the old light, a pair never to be separated. No one sits on that rotted old bench because rumor has it, Edward Hill died there. Right on its tired faded out wood. It happened about 15 years ago, the random death, forever unexplained. As far as I know, that bench has been sitting there untouched ever since. I don’t know how much stock I can put into the story. The sad tale of a lost soul tied to a bench, the reason the light flickers but never goes out. It’s too movie storyline. Why would a ghost hang around an old rundown train station? What is the point? There is nothing there.
It doesn't bother me for the same reason that it does bother most people. Most are afraid of apparitions, the boogieman come to get them. What’s my reason? It’s simple really, I don’t want there to be life on the other side. I don’t want to have to deal with more of this monotony, an eternity of it in a bright white light of flesh dissolving flames. My hope is to one day close my eyes, fall asleep, and that is it, it’s simply over. Last stop, nothing further, no return ticket. The coward’s exit as some would call it.
The wood creaks louder, they will definitely have to do something about this soon. Of course, ‘they’ refers to the city or whatever corporation is responsible for making sure the damn thing doesn’t fall apart, but then again, maybe that’s what they are waiting for. The platform collapses and this is no longer the last stop. Great, that would mean either driving further into town or taking the bus. At this time of night, the bus is filled with nothing but crack heads and crazies. I think I will look up tasers when I get home. I heard you could buy one on Amazon for a good price.
I’m just about to pass the bench; thoughts of Edward Hill are being replaced by more things to add to my shopping list when my purse strap suddenly snaps. Perfect, just what I need. I bend down to pick up the lip-gloss that rolled under the bench, (its way to light a color for me, maybe I should just leave it there) and some pens that fell out of the side pocket. Underneath the bench, I see something shiny. Silver I think. I know what you are thinking, hell; it’s what I would have been thinking had I been reading this instead of living it. You are thinking that you would never reach under there for whatever it is. Well, you’re right, I shouldn’t, but of course, I do. Hell, there wouldn’t be a story to tell if I didn’t.

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